Policy Insights

What have we learned from randomized evaluations that policymakers, practitioners, and funders can use to improve social programs? J-PAL’s Policy Insights, organized by sector, highlight lessons emerging across multiple studies and the mechanisms that help explain the results.

J-PAL’s Sector Chairs and staff draw these insights from relevant randomized evaluations, updating and adding insights as the body of evidence grows. Each Policy Insight briefly summarizes their perspective on the evidence on a specific topic, with links to the original research and policy summaries. Read this blog post for more information about how we develop Policy Insights.

When combined with a detailed understanding of context and program implementation, we hope these insights can be practical inputs for policy and program design. For examples of how insights from randomized evaluations have informed policy, visit our Evidence to Policy page.

students in China taking an exam

Improving learning outcomes through school-based health programs

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Around the world, learning levels remain low and therefore a priority area for improvement. A key barrier to participation and learning in school is student health, especially in low- and middle-income countries. However, due to a lack of coordination between health and education departments, the...
Cash transfer in Kenya

Using cash transfers to improve child health in low- and middle-income countries

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Cash transfer programs conditional on the use of health products and services generally increase uptake and improve child health outcomes among households that receive them. Cash transfers that increase uptake of healthy behaviors in the short term can improve cognition and educational outcomes in...
Teacher helping student

Reducing community college dropout through comprehensive supports

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Providing community college students with a wide range of comprehensive supports, such as counseling, tutoring, and financial assistance, can improve low rates of persistence and graduation. These support programs address many simultaneous barriers that students face, which may be a key driver...
Two adults sit outside reading with three children.

Encouraging early childhood stimulation from parents and caregivers to improve child development

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Evidence from 11 low- and middle-income countries shows that encouraging caregivers to play and interact with children aged 0–3 in a stimulating way improves children’s cognitive development. These programs can increase the time and resources parents invest in their children’s development. However...

Teaching business skills to support microentrepreneurs

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Business skills training programs increased microentrepreneurs’ use of business best practices, but in most cases, there were no significant changes in their profits.

Supporting firm growth through consulting and business training

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Economists have long identified large differences in productivity between countries and between firms. One potential explanation for the persistent gap is that some firms have better management practices than others.

Encouraging residential energy efficiency

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Programs that encouraged investments in residential energy efficiency had limited returns in several impact evaluations in real-world settings. Relatively small impacts on energy savings coupled with low take-up meant that encouraging these investments through information campaigns and subsidies was...

The limited impact of US workplace wellness programs on health and employment-related outcomes

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Two randomized evaluations of workplace wellness programs in the US found limited impact on employees’ health habits and no impact on their health, employment, or health care costs in the initial years, contrary to previous observational studies.